Hartlepool shop ordered to close for months after selling bootleg tobacco
Traders have been urged to avoid the temptation of selling bootleg tobacco after a court ordered an offending shop to close for Christmas.
The International Food Store, in Murray Street, Hartlepool, will remain shut for three months after magistrates imposed the maximum closure penalty available to them.
This has now been rubberstamped by a full hearing at Teesside Magistrates’ Court, in Middlesbrough, on Wednesday.
The court heard that a number of test purchases had been made at the premises and that on two occasions sniffer dogs had found illicit tobacco on site.
Neil Harrison, senior trading standards officer at the council, said he was pleased by Wednesday’s outcome.
He also urged the public to contact his department if they suspect similar activities are taking place elsewhere.
He added in a statement: "The sale of illicit tobacco products is a crime and not a victimless one.
"Not only is it linked to organised crime, but it also counteracts the work of health services and local authorities in their efforts to reduce smoking prevalence.
“The low price and easy accessibility of these products discourages existing smokers from quitting and encourages non-smokers such as children to try it.
"This can obviously lead to addiction and the associated serious health problems.
"Legitimate retailers who comply with the law and sell legal products, also lose out to this unfair competition.
“I'm pleased that the magistrates have agreed to impose the maximum three-month closure available to them.
"We must reduce the harm caused by the sale of illegal tobacco and I would urge members of the public to continue reporting such activity so that we can take the necessary action.”
Reports can be made to Hartlepool Borough Council’s trading standards department by calling (01429) 523362 or by emailing [email protected]
*A shop which was shut by a court for similar offences is facing a similar application to keep it closed.
Durham County Council is seeking a fresh closure order at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court on Thursday.